"Good evening. I'm here today to gain a professional opinion on whether or not my husband is crazy. You are the finest professors and researchers in the field of psychology today. I invite everyone to participate in this evaluation. My husband is currently undergoing treatment that will allow him to sleep without dreaming. This includes medication for reducing REM waves, as well as procedures usually used to treat insanity. I have with me several journals I have collected from him. The journals are records of real experiences, imagined experiences, and dreams my husband went through, though it is difficult to tell them apart. It also difficult to tell the exact chronological order of these journals, but I believe I have the best order that can be hoped for. As I am presenting these journals, please take notes on whether this is a story of a delusional man, or a very unlucky man."
Journal Entry No. 1: "The End of the World"
The planet was in shambles. Meteors were raining from the sky. I jumped from one floating piece of the planet to another, all of these pieces of land floating lifeless in the air. In the distance, three skeletal dragons arched their necks and roared, sparks of flame shooting out of their jaws. The shine of their bones could be seen through the fog, as well as the individual manes that appeared on each one of their necks. One yellow, one red, and one jet black. I continued to race upward. I needed to get there, I needed to get to her. I could see my floating, black and white house in the distance. The planet was literally falling apart, but that didn't scare me. I was almost looking forward to this. What scared me was not being able to see the end of the world with her...
"Oh, darn it! I'm going backwards. I sincerely apologize, I've started with the last journal first. Let me flip over this stack... I need to label these. Here. This is the beginning; I'm sure of it."
Actual Journal Entry No. 1: "Dreams & Dragons"
Dreams are very interesting. They never really bothered me before. Until now, the only dreams I've had were either of me saving the world, or me proposing to my wife, Alice. When saving the world, I would often happen upon women who needed my help. I would help them stop the nuclear missile launch, or halt the flying shark attacks, and then afterward, just like a James Bond movie, they would want to kiss me out of thanks. Not even in my dreams could I do that. My love for Alice is so deep that not even my subconscious would let me take an imaginary break from her.
When I did finally propose to Alice, several years ago, it went almost perfectly. It just so happened that there was a conference I needed to attend in Paris, the most romantic city in the world, and it just so happened she could come with me. I thought ahead, and ordered a small band to play our favorite Beatles song on a small boat that would pass under a bridge, in the middle of Paris, at exactly our planned time. The boat was supposed to have a big banner that said, "Will you marry me?" draped over top of it. Of course, I forgot this banner. It was sitting in a backpack, back in America. I decided to bring a smaller bag instead, forgetting to move the banner over, as well as my deodorant. Deodorant was easy enough to find at the airport, but no one sold a huge banner for proposals. Fortunately, I did have the ring, so I still proposed, and she loved it. After choking back tears, she finally said yes, and thought it was perfect. I never told her about the banner. Maybe it would have looked tacky or corny, but every so often afterwards, I have dreamt about proposing to her again, but in those dreams, I remember the banner.
I've heard it is common, when sleeping, to dream about life's riddles and conundrums, and in your dream, you magically figure out the solutions, like putting little puzzle pieces together. In the dreams I've had lately, which I've decided to chronicle, I feel like I'm doing that, but it's more like I'm bending the pieces to make them fit. What's stranger is lately, my dreams are not about me proposing to my wife, or about saving the world. They hardly seem like my dreams anymore, even though they seem to incorporate pieces of my world.
Before I went to sleep last night, I had to work. Unfortunately, I am one of those poor souls who have to work hard for a living. At least I love my job. I am a forensic scientist working for the city police department. Even though I get to walk inside the yellow police line whenever there is a crime scene, I'm no cop; no detective. I don't have a badge, and I don't get a gun. In fact, I've never even shot a gun. I wouldn't know which way to point it. Despite this, my wife likes to call me "Detective Ike."
At work, there was a crime scene. A very unusual one, but I don't think I've been working there long enough to call any crime scene "usual." When I crouched under the yellow police tape, I entered into a small, two bedroom apartment. In the middle of the living room floor was a young, blond girl, shot to death. She couldn't be more than six or seven years old. And there was nothing else there. There was no furniture, no silverware, no blankets, no cats, no televisions. Nothing was found, until I walked into the kitchen and found a mug hiding above the cabinets. It was bright blue with yellow letters that had "#1 Dad" painted on the front. Except for some pieces of clothing and blood samples, the mug was the only evidence I took from that crime scene. It had the father's fingerprints all over it, but it wasn't enough to close the case. We needed to find a murder weapon for that, though I'm sure finding the father would help, too. He was nowhere to be found.
Finally, I came home to my wife. After dinner, I kissed her goodnight, and held her until she fell asleep. Then I let go a little bit, and drifted into a dream. A totally different kind of dream.
I was in a long hallway with dark steel walls and a light gray, carpeted floor. The place was crowded and moving with what looked to be high school students, many with thick backpacks or stacks of books. I didn't recognize any of the faces until out of the crowd came Sky. Sky said he didn't expect to see me here, but that I should stay with him, and that his room is just a little ways up. He said I'll love his roommate.
We continued down the labyrinth of gray hallways until finally the crowd seemed to thin out. A few more steps ahead, three girls were huddled together, whispering about something. As we approached, two of them turned around and yelled, "Ike!"
Their beauty stunned me at first, forcing me to take a step back. I quickly glanced at Sky, who had gone slack-jawed, but not over the girls. His eyes were trained on a big, dark haired man walking away from us. He slapped me on the shoulder, then said to the blond girl in front, "I'll see you soon, Sara," and ran off after the dark-haired guy.
I slowly turned my eyes towards the girls, as if looking at them too quickly would cause them to attack me. Without any attacks at all, I finally got a good look at them, and instantly recognized two of the girls. Outside of dreamworld, I went to high school with these girls. Sara, who stood in front, had long, blond hair that somehow shined in the gray hallways, and she was much shorter than the other girls. She couldn't have been more than five feet tall. Everything about her was very cute; her innocent eyes could tell a thousand lies and anyone would believe every one of them. Behind her stood Raine, with red hair down to her shoulders, and eyes that looked as if they could melt walls. The third girl, whom I did not recognize, had already stepped away from the group. Her jet black, flowing hair and strong eyes all at once seemed a cause for alarm in me. I wanted to run; I thought if anyone were to suddenly grow claws and scratch me until I've no flesh left to tear apart it would be her. Like a predator in the background, she continued to slip away from the group, and the further away she was, the more relaxed I felt about my own safety.
Sara was the one to break me from my fear. She gave me a hug and told me she's staying with Sky, in a room a little further down the hallway. I thought these doors lead to classrooms, but apparently they lead to dorm rooms.
A door was opening and I was walking inside, holding Sara's hand. It's a big room, with much more space than a few students would ever need. The whole room looked like it was built out of steel. Steel plates covered the walls, the floor was a shiny gray, and even a table in the corner shined metallic. A metal platform, only a step or two high, heralded a rusty looking bunk bed. Sara took my attention away from all the metal by slamming the door, then shoving me against the wall, pressing her body against mine. At first she kissed my neck, but then before I knew it, we were kissing each other's lips and I wasn't pulling away. After a minute, it was her that pulled away, with a look of shock on her face. She quickly snatched my hand, and we dove underneath the bunk bed. Half a second later, the door opened, and all I could see were big, black boots with dark pants shoved into them walking into the room.
Sara wasn't frightened. In fact, she was giggling, looking up at me. I understood, in the way that somehow you know what's going on in dreams, I just knew that this man walking around was the principal of this school, this school of who-knows-what they teach. I also knew that we were not supposed to be there, at least not yet. I thought this must be her room, and possibly Sky's.
Still under the bed, I could see another bed on the opposite wall. The principal went stomping in that direction, and eventually looked under the bed. This whole time, Sara was looking up at me, holding her mouth as if to stifle a laugh. I gave her a quiet kiss on the cheek, and just like that, the principal was out of the room. It was high school again, hiding from authority, and it felt fantastic. We slipped out from underneath the bunk bed, and on my way out I bumped a small nightstand I didn't know was there. A white mug came crashing down, smashing against the floor. White ceramic bits went flying across the metal platform, but the mug wasn't broken. In fact, it just changed colors. It turned blue.
Sara let out a laugh and picked up the mug. She told me, "This is a trick my old boyfriend taught me. How he knew so much about crafting clay I can't be sure, but he showed me that it's possible to make a mug, and then just make another mug over top of it. So when it breaks, you still have a mug. It's also pretty handy for sending secret messages."
I took a look at the blue mug in her hand, looking carefully at the scribbled yellow letters, which read, "Sky! Quit stealing my men!" Sara innocently glanced up at me. "Sky's pretty clumsy. I knew he'd read this eventually."
I'm surrounded by more steel walls, but this time they were darker. It felt more cramped, and like the world was moving. As my eyes began to focus, I realized I was lying on the floor. Next to me on one wall were low-hanging seats with strangers in them, strapped in with belts that formed a big black "X" on their chests. No, they weren't all strangers. There were five seats, and in the two furthest away from me I saw Sky, and then I saw Raine. Fear suddenly gripped me. I forgot to check what room number Sky was staying in with Sara. I shuffled over to him.
"I already know what you're going to say. The room number is 2013. Two-zero-one-three. Sara will be there when you get back, but I won't! I'll be staying with my new friend!" Sky says in a funny, but fake, British accent. Relief and excitement replaced my fear. I get to stay with a cute girl, alone, in this strange place. "But you'd better wake up, Ike. I think you're next."
I looked around to see others kneeling on the floor, with those same "X" marks on their chests, and attached were big black packs on their backs. I looked down to find an "X" was also on my chest. A young student crawled over to an older, blond lady who was waiting next to some sort of machine attached to the wall. It had a goggle shaped glass pane with rubber on the sides like a scuba mask. The student promptly placed his eyes in this and grabbed hold of small, black handlebars on the side of it. The blond lady, who I assumed was the teacher, was talking to him. I couldn't hear what they were saying, but somehow I knew that this machine let the viewer watch a camera attached to a sky diver's helmet, and the teacher was instructing the student about what he was about to do. And then I knew we were flying. A quick look around and I realized that there was another blond teacher instructing a student. I watched her lips move, as if she was saying, "good luck." A supposedly secret hatch instantly moved out from under the student's feet. Where there was black steel, now there was sky. The student fell through, and the hatch closed. When I looked up, the teacher was looking at me. "You've looked through the scope?"
Before I got a chance to answer, she said, "Good luck!"
I was tumbling on the ground. A bright, yellow parachute, probably about the size of the entire continent of Asia, was swallowing me alive. I threw my arms out wildly in horror, as if the parachute was going to restrict me from ever breathing in the outside world again. Fortunately, a savior had come. A hand pulled up one edge of the parachute and I saw a thin man with no eyes offer me his other hand. I grabbed it as if my life depended on it. He pulled me out, and I finally got a good luck at him.
In the real world, he was once my best man at my wedding. Sadly, I haven't talked to him in years, yet in this dream world, he seemed ecstatic to see me. His glasses were reflecting the bright sunlight, appearing solid white, as if he had no eyes behind them. To my left I could see a whole crowd of students picking up their own parachutes and walking up a dirt path, surrounded by bright sunlight and tall, yellow-green trees. I looked up at my old friend and said, "Good to see you, Anthony."
As if exchanging pleasantries would take up too much time, he barked at me, "You've got to see this!" He clicked some button on my back, and the parachute was unattached, continuing its slow float to the ground. He grasped my arm and pulled me away from the group.
We were walking up a path, away from the students. I was a few steps behind him. After half a moment we reached a plateau, but I couldn't see Anthony. I cut through some thick, green bushes to find him about 20 yards away, looking up. Then, I saw him running towards me.
The whole world trembled. Everything was about to end. I was going to die, this was it. When Anthony was close enough so that I could see his face, I saw he was smiling the biggest smile I had seen in years. He said to me, "Take this."
He quickly handed me a strange gun. Somehow, of course, I knew it was a gun. It was shaped like one, except it had red, square, plastic looking plates attached to the side of it, and a thin, gray nozzle sticking out the front of it. After a quick glance at the odd thing, I remembered that behind him was a monster. Anthony was running straight towards it. He cut to the right. As if I knew what I was doing, I ran to the left. As I got closer to the monster, I could see it in a better light. As the sun shined down on it, I saw the light reflecting off of its many bones. It was 20, 30 feet tall, and was nothing but moving bones. It ran on all fours after Anthony. It arched its long neck and stretched out its skeletal wings. It roared an enormous, earth-shattering sound, then hopped to one side and swung its long, shiny white tail at Anthony. I was staring at a dragon, which was apparently made out of only bones.
As if I knew what I was doing, I strafed to one side and pointed the gun at the monster. I pulled the trigger and watched as a flood of bullets ran screaming from the thin nozzle. The bullets were interesting, though, because I could see that as they were flying, they were on fire. In dream-land this seemed to make perfect sense to me. It wasn't until I gained consciousness in reality that I thought it was a little psycho.
Reloading the gun with bullets I didn't know I had, I recalled that Anthony is the very competitive type. I saw him running backwards, firing his gun at the dragon, with no fear in eyes, which were again hidden by the sun. I was concerned for my friend, but at that moment, all I wanted to do was kill the monster first. How great it would be to see his jealous face.
Anthony was on the ground. The monster was standing on its hind legs, about to crush Anthony. Still behind those sun-blasted glasses, his face finally showed fear. I sprinted towards the monster, my body pumping adrenaline into every action. The monster spun around, stomping its feet only a few steps away from me. It spun again, trying to pound me with its tail. I jumped over its tail, and before it had a chance to swing back, I ran closer to it. I jumped again, and as if I knew what I was doing, I grabbed hold of a neck bone. One foot found stability on another neck bone, and with the opposite hand, I pointed the gun directly at the monster's head. I pulled the trigger, and watched the thing's skull explode into a billion bits of burning bone.
I dropped to my feet and watched as the dragon's bones decided to discontinue their magical floating trick and fell to the ground. Dozens and dozens of bright, white bones collapsed into a heap on the ground. In the middle of the heap I saw something out of place. It was a bone, but it was dark. Picking it up, I saw that it was a human skull, but shrunk to about the size of a fist. A thin, long rope was sticking out either end of the top of it, forming a tied circle, like a necklace. So, I put on the necklace.
Anthony, seemingly in shock, stumbled over to me. He gazed at the dark skull, almost brown from age. Somehow I knew it was a trophy. Even in my dream state, though, I knew it must look ridiculous, but I also knew that it was a symbol to be recognized and feared. I didn't really know what else to do with it, other than show it off. Anthony's shocked face turned into a big smile. He looked up at me, quickly grabbed my shoulder, and yelled, "Dude!"
His voice echoed in my head, louder than a car crash but I wasn't on a grassy plateau over murdered dragon bones under a sunny sky. Instead, I was in my bed, sitting straight up. Next to me, my wife stirred, and almost yelled, "Let's get the green Christmas tree. The red ones are like... big tomatoes. Okay?" She was sleep talking again. "Okay, baby, anything you want." She gave me a sleepy nod, and I glanced down at my neck. No fist-sized skull trophy. Too bad. I looked at the clock to see it was almost five in the morning. I knew if I rushed, I could get into work very early. For a moment I thought about Sara. Sara, who as far as I could recall, moved to the other side of the country several years ago. For half a second after that, I caught myself thinking about her soft lips or at least how I imagined them in my dream - but then I remembered what's important. Her little trick she taught me.
Crunching across the snow in an empty parking lot, I noticed I was already missing the sun from my dreamworld. I got to the door, swiped my card, and let myself into the police building. There was only one other person there, and he signed me in to the evidence vault. Finally, I was inside, grabbing the mug from that poor girl's crime scene. I ran to my lab, and searched for something to chip away at the mug. Too excited about my own stupid, dream induced theory, I quickly examined the mug, still in a big, plastic bag. The bright blue mug's exclamation of "#1 Dad" stared up at me. I almost apologized to it. Then, I let go.
A huge bang, and pieces went flying inside in the bag as it crashed to the floor. I could hear the morning shift officer rushing over towards my lab. He opened the door to see my huge, probably insane looking smile. A perfectly intact, white mug was sitting at my feet, still in its bag, crowded by broken bits of blue ceramic. An address was printed on the mug with black marker: "2013 North Ave."
2013, an interesting number. A white mug hiding inside a blue mug. I just reopened a case that was thought to be instantly cold. This could all be a big coincidence. How much does my subconscious know that I don't? It just helped me figure out an impossible puzzle, and I'm putting it together with pieces that I didn't know were there. Pieces that must have always been there, of course.
All I could think about was what was going to happen when I fell asleep that night. I thought, will I dream?